17 Year Old Going To Bootcamp

As the title indicates, I’m 17 and planning to go to coding bootcamp. However, just going to school for 3 months (I’m going to HackReactor/Galvanize) doesn’t seem like a lot (my peers are going to 4 year schools). Do you think at my age it’s a good idea for me to go into a more “mature workspace” (I’ve only worked at two fast food restaurants) and to go to jobs with just 3 month training? What do you think?

If a traditional 4 year degree is a viable option available to you, I would strongly urge you to consider it.

One thing that I rarely see mentioned is that the majority of people who attend coding bootcamps already have a Bachelor’s degree, and often have either academic or professional experience in programming.

If you decide to attend a bootcamp, I do recommend reading Quincy’s “Bootcamp Handbook” as you consider your options.

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Why would a 4 year degree be a better option

4 year degrees have several benefits. The two biggest in my mind are

  1. They offer a broader range of skills than simply writing some code
  2. They provide a credential that is understood by HR departments in companies

If you can reasonably afford a 4 year degree, it is a path that will give you better odds of success.

There are so many reasons that I almost don’t even want to get into this.

  • Bootcamps have no accreditation and basically no legal requirement to give you a quality education. They can decide what they want to teach you, change the courses on you, use anyone they want as “teachers”, etc. They don’t have to meet any standards requirements. (There are major fraud concerns with for-profit programs like this, but even if their intention is good there is basically no oversite.)
  • Even in the best case scenario, a bootcamp can only teach you as much as they can cram in a few months.
  • Bootcamps give you a crash course in a single technology which may make you qualified for the jobs using that specific technology. Traditional degrees are structured to give you a broad background and let you add specialization on top of that as you progress.
  • Universities provide a broad range of support and services, from free tutoring to career services, to academic support and counseling.
  • As I mentioned, most people who complete bootcamps have a college degree and some professional experience programming. Bootcamps’ curriculum is targeted to that level of expertise.
  • A significant percentage of programming jobs still require a degree. Many of those require a degree in Computer Science or a related field.
  • Even if a degree is not strictly required, employers will have a bias toward them over bootcamps because of all the other points listed here.
  • Traditional degrees incorporate professional experience through internships or co-ops. Most college graduates in Computer Science (or similar majors) have 1-3 years of professional experience when they graduate. Most internships are not available to non-students.
  • A traditional degree includes what are called “transferable skills”, “soft skills”, or “professional skills”. In other words: the humanities.
  • A traditional degree includes a STEM breadth that dramatically widens your career opportunities. There are so many cool things that you can do as a programmer that require college level math and science literacy.
  • A 4 year degree provides you with time. Time to grow and mature as a programmer (as well as a human), time to create both a breadth and depth of knowledge, time to try out different areas of the field, time to build a network and professional background.
  • A traditional degree may cost more than most (but not all!) bootcamps, but the cost to value proposition is often much better, especially if you are young. Additionally, there are many more cost alleviation opportunities for an accredited degree than a bootcamp (from subsidized loans to grants and scholarships and even loan forgiveness in some circumstances).

A traditional degree isn’t available to everyone, so I’m glad that there are other options (especially free ones like freeCodeCamp). For some people a traditional degree is not the best option because of their circumstances or personal disposition. But for a 17 year old for whom it’s a viable option, it’s likely to be the best one.


In my cohort… while I was the oldest-- the youngest was 18 and had graduated high right before he joined (I’m not exactly sure how as we started in February… different set up I guess).

Smart as a whip but still a kid in many ways. However he’s done better than me job wise lol- has been a QA for about a year or so now.

But I do agree with ArielLeslie on a lot of her points. A degree does open doors more easily (CS or not). However I do get why some folks may want to jump into bootcamps; perhaps in time they will be accredited- some already are partnered with Universities.

What about junior high school?

I have heard it said that the teachers in junior high school are actually more competent and learned then the ones in a four year college. If that is so, wouldn’t it be better?

Most employers only care about a university degree, in my experience.

So sorry! I meant junior college! My bad! Mea culpa! :crazy_face:

Junior college, at least where I live, only gets you an Associate’s Degree. Most employers expect a Bachelor’s Degree.

Aye, yi, yi! You mean I have to spend four years of my life in college! What if I have connections? I am willing to work my butt off but I am not willing to waste my life’s years unnecessarily. Is there another way?

If you can afford college and want to work in STEM, then I’ll always recommend it.

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It’s not an absolute requirement.
But it will make your job search significantly easier. Having a degree greatly increases your chances of being hired.
That being said, if you’re not committed to spending four years in a field of study, don’t enroll. Wait until you know what you want to do.


Thanks. But, do you think junior college may help a little. I am living half an hour away from one!

More education is more better, so long as you try to make the most of your time.

I can totally afford it. It is not a question of money. Student grants and scholarships are in abundance right now for females who want to enter into this field. It is more a question of time.

It can help, yes.
Take the time to look in to the programme the junior college offers - then look into universities that will accept the credits from those courses. If you take classes at a junior college you want them to count toward a four year programme in case you choose to go that route.


You are totally right! Thanks for reminding me of that!

If it’s only a question of time, then yes it’s worth it. You gain experience, knowledge, credentials, and connections. Four years seems like a long time, but it’s not that long in the scheme of a life.